Nik Bärtsch's Mobile

Label: Ronin Rhythm Records
Format: CD
Barcode: 7640105942626
Catalog number: RON 006
Releasedate: 04-08-23
- Record by Nik Bärtsch's Mobile
Is this a jazz album? A rhythm, fast, complex, not immediately classifiable, from an indeterminate sound source. It's just a rhythm, repeated, incessantly. Gradually the contours become clear. The rhythm, despite all the transverse accents, can nevertheless be conceived of as a four-four time. The rhythm is produced on the manually damped strings of a concert grand piano. The rhythm, rhythm only, rhythm pure, basic note: Aflat. The saxophone entry after one minute and twenty seconds comes as a shock. The tone is dissonant to the piano, but it is glissandrously bent up into a single tone. Once. Several times. In the meantime, a Marimba has imperceptibly joined in, amplifying the basic tone, reinforcing the rhythm. After two minutes and forty seconds, the drums, played softly with the hands. Gradually, with all the time in the world, a rudimentary melody emerges from the saxophone glissando. Then, an abrupt break. No more rhythm. A four-tone motif from the piano, once, twice, eight times. Then the rhythm is back, carried by percussion and marimba. The percussion remains alone, skin sounds, subtle variations on the rhythm, the mere rhythm. Is this a jazz record? Jazz musicians rarely play in such a disciplined, ego-less way. Minimal music? This music does not grow as processually and straightforwardly as Steve Reich's does. And you would look in vain for such expressive, individual nuances of timbre, articulation and timing in the ensembles of Reich or Glass. Jazz after all? If so, then a new, unfamiliar, reduced variant. The variant that the Zurich pianist Nik Bärtsch plays with his quartet "Mobile" he calls ‚Ritual Groove Music’. "In terms of cultural history, I certainly consciously set myself apart from the cliché of the sweating jazz musician twitching in expressive activism," says Bärtsch. "The orgasmic principle interests me only to a limited extent." But the trance-like, repetitive, reductive one does. "In my brain and body, as in the world, there are millions of interesting, tempting possibilities, ideas and concepts. Reduction seems to me personally one of the best methods to be precise, not to get lost in the diversity, not to despair of it."